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Sports and Bodies: An exploration of bodily inscription through the practice of sport

Sport is an integral aspect of contemporary society; it is also a political, economic, educational, religious and scientific activity. The body and embodied experiences are central to the practice of sport. This research is concerned with both the embodied nature of sport and the potential for sport to mirror, and channel, discourses from wider society. Drawing from the fields of sports geography, bodily geography, and relevant literature from sports studies, the notion of bodily inscription through sport is the focus of this report. Data was collected through focus groups containing a range of social and amateur sports-people with additional data gained through analysis of sports and fitness magazines. The theoretical framework used to contextualise this data is that of Henning Eichberg’s sports trialectic and the wider concept of body culture. This allows for the mapping of bodily inscription via the different characteristics of sport associated with branches of the trialectic; achievement, fitness and body experience. The work of Eichberg also adds another dimension to this analysis - the comparison between sport, democracy and varying iterations of society. In particular, neo-liberalism which is evident through the dominance of efficiency, competition and individualism in sport, is a potent presence. Through the connection between the ‘obesity epidemic’ and neo-liberalism, an over-riding theme is body weight; the defining inscription of a sporting body as leanness. The dominance of concerns over body weight prompted a revision of Eichberg’s sports trialectic model in an attempt to encompass the role of neo-liberalism and the absence of the heuristic element of body experience.
Type of thesis
Baker, T. (2014). Sports and Bodies: An exploration of bodily inscription through the practice of sport (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8975
University of Waikato
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